Press Release by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa on the high fees imposed by a decree on journalists and media outlets in Mozambique

    The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), acting through the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (the Special Rapporteur), Commissioner Lawrence Mute, expresses concern about the decree published by the Government of Mozambique in its Gazette Number 143, in Series 1 on 23 July 2018, which introduced high taxes and licensing fees for journalists and correspondents of foreign media houses, as well as television and radio stations.

    Under the decree, foreign correspondents resident in Mozambique will pay an accreditation fee of 500 000 Mozambican metical (approximately US$ 8,630) per year to report on stories in the country, while nationals who are correspondents for foreign media outlets will pay 200 000 Mozambican meticais (approximately US$ 3,400). Foreign freelance journalists will pay an accreditation fee of 150,000 Mozambican meticais (approximately US$2600) while nationals will pay accreditation fees of 30,000 Mozambican meticais (approximately US$ 508). The decree also raises broadcasting license fees for radio stations to as much as US$ 34,000, and additional fees for renewing licences.

    The Special Rapporteur is concerned that the decree imposes prohibitively high fees for journalists and media which will undermine the expression and dissemination of information.

    Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) guarantees the right to receive information, as well as the right of every person to express and disseminate their opinions within the law.

    Prohibitively high fees may have the effect of closing media space, thereby undermining Mozambique’s obligation to implement Article 9 of the African Charter.

    The Special Rapporteur notes that the media acts as a critical avenue for supporting transparency and accountability in democratic society, and Mozambique should not employ extreme licensing and accreditation restrictions.

    The Special Rapporteur urges the Government of Mozambique to reconsider the fees stipulated in the decree to ensure they do not bar the full exercise of Article 9 rights by the people of Mozambique.

    Banjul, 24 August 2018

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      Date: 27 August 2018

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